As long as I have been paying attention, there has been a certain faction in Pacifica that considers ecological and wildlife considerations to be somehow at odds with business and commerce.
Many of these same individuals promote building more housing because of the very short-term boost that gives the economy, and I guess they think that the property taxes will offset the additional burden on city services.
It has been proven again and again that "bedroom community" is NOT an industry. I am a plumbing contractor. I make my living designing, installing, and maintaining plumbing systems. If anyone were going to make money from a period of indiscriminate building, it would be contractors such as myself.
Pacifica needs industry, not more residences. The rights of people who already own property zoned residential should, of course, not have their rights violated. We have many empty storefronts, so we don't really need more commercial buildings, either, until we come up with businesses to put in them.
Pacifica is particularly well situated for tourism, and especially for eco-tourism, and we aren't very well situated for anything else unless some Pacifican has just (I hope) invented the next Gotta-Have-It in their garage and plans to keep their business in town.
The City Council's upcoming appointments to the Open Space Committee are essential to having a City Council and an electorate that are adequately informed on open-space issues. There is a great deal to know about our open spaces and without the counsel of a strong Open Space Committee, we could well be burning our bridges in front of us, and undoing our prospects for the future.
I spoke to council member Mary Ann Nihart about it last week, and she said that the Open Space Committee issue will be addressed in March. She also suggested that there will be some structural changes to the Open Space Committee, having to do with liaison with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). Here is a link about the impact of parks and open spaces on various economies:
To go with Lionel's recent op-ed here on Riptide about the Chamber of Commerce, click the link below for a copy of the chamber's 2010 IRS tax return, the latest available online at Guidestar. (The chamber usually has filed its tax returns in the fall, so the 2011 copy isn't available online yet.)
The bottom line is that in 2010 the chamber lost $68,451 (Line 18), almost half of its total assets as of the start of 2010. It also had a loss in the previous two years, although it was much smaller: $19,499 in 2009 and $11,747 in 2008. It will be interesting to get the 2011 numbers and see if the losses continue. But if the chamber is still losing that much money, it could explain why it is increasing its fees, although I think that may backfire if a lot of people drop their membership.
The Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, in a stunning departure from its longtime policy, has decided to exclude non-chamber members from its printed directory. In sending out notices of renewal to members, this change was first on the list:
"ONLY Chamber members whose dues are current will have the opportunity to advertise in our annual keepsake, the 2013-2014 Business Directory."
The policy of inclusion of any business wishing to have a listing or an advertisement in the directory goes back to at least 1980, according to Jean Headley of Headley Office Services, who joined the chamber in that year.
But that's not all, at least in terms of shocking changes for chamber members. Membership rates have skyrocketed, with one member telling this writer of a dues change from $160 last year to $295 this year! Others have reported increases of 50 percent from last year's rates. The notice of increase sent to members has the reassuring question:
"IN 'STICKER SHOCK' OVER YOUR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP DUES INVOICE? That was never our intention. The good news is we've changed the structure of your annual membership dues by adding more features which increase the value of being a Pacifica Chamber Member."
The notice then goes on to note various technological "improvements" to one's business visibility: (1) six-line listing in the directory, (2) listing in a mobile iPhone app, (3) uploading of photos, video, and customer testimonials to the chamber's website, (4) e-newsletter sent to members, (5) the chamber's employing a PR firm, which will supposedly drive more traffic to one's business website.
The chamber places the collective "value" of these items at $1,000. Pretty reassuring to a struggling local business facing a 50 percent to 100 percent increase in its chamber membership, eh?
The irony of all this is that some businesses have passed this by long ago and already get their new customers online with no assistance from the chamber. This writer's business has gotten almost all new business references from Internet searches,
The chamber directory, which used to be the local bible of buying, has not been the source of much of anything in terms of referrals in recent years. And full disclosure here: I haven't been a chamber member for years, having not seen any good reason to join.
One of the stated goals of our newly inspired chamber is "Endorsing political action." The chamber has taken some pretty bizarre positions in recent years, including its breathless endorsement of Pacifica's very high garbage collection rates, which are being inflicted upon the smallest commercial base of any city in the county.
How that can be considered "representing the interests of business with government" (the chamber's words) will have to be left to the reader's imagination.
The chamber also has enthusiastically endorsed the proposed six-lane widening of Highway 1 between Vallemar and Rockaway, which would create the only such six-lane stretch of Highway 1 in the state of California.
And then there's the chamber's entry into the local political world. On the invoice for payment by local businesses entering the brave new world of chamber membership is a "voluntary" $39 contribution to something called "BacPac," a political action committee (PAC).
On the California Secretary of State website, our chamber's PAC is called "Pacifica Chamber Of Commerce Business And Community Political Action Committee (PACPAC). There are no filings or contributions as of yet, and this appears to be new. Whether it's BACPAC or PACPAC, the chamber seeks to extract from members a contribution, as evidenced by the new billing invoice.
Perhaps politics should be left to the people and their government. Or perhaps a business organization such as the chamber of commerce should actually be in touch with its members to know their opinions. It seems that neither one is what's going on at present.